Darter drying his plumes at Tuggerah Laks. Taken by Reginald J. Dunkley

Darter drying his plumes at Tuggerah Laks. Taken by Reginald J. Dunkley

Here we are again with the news from down under. The weather has finally changed and it is raining but still no snow at Kosciusko or any of the snow fields and the season has officially started. The Queen’s birthday is always celebrated with a long weekend break and The Central Coast is a favourite haunt with lots of tourists and holidaymakers.  Unsurprising really, as the region is a mere two hours from Sydney and there are plenty of things to do — especially if the weather is fine. If not, retail therapy seem to fit the bill and, of course, the movies.

One of the main attractions of the area is Tuggerah Lakes, popular for fishing with catches of luderick, bream, and whiting just waiting to be hauled in.  Prawns are also plentiful over the summer months during the dark of the new moon. The Lakes are an important bird habitat. The shallow waters of the seagrass beds attract the water birds: Sandpipers, Chestnut Teals, Pelicans, Cormorants, Ducks, Black Swans, Red Neck Stints, as well as all the native birds. History tells us that Tuggerah Lake was actually stumbled upon in 1797 during a search for escaped convict “Molly (Mary) Morgan”. While hunting Molly, the search party came across a lagoon around twenty miles long and parallel to the sea coast. What a sight it must have been — so unspoiled and pristine back in those days.  It is still very beautiful and popular with visitors enjoying picnics and having fun on the water.  The wetland system consists of three interconnected lakes, Budgewoi and Lake Munmorah as you drive up the coast. Tuggerah is the largest and can be seen from Shelly Beach.  We are spoilt for choice in this region with lakes on one side and the ocean on the other.  My husband Reginald snapped some splendid photographs of The Darter which has a long sinuous, snake-like neck and frequently swims with its body submerged except for its long-billed head and neck. It is popularly known as “snake-bird” and has exquisite plumage.

Profile of the Darter at Tuggerah Lakes. Taken by Reginald J. Dunkley.

Profile of the Darter at Tuggerah Lakes. Taken by Reginald J. Dunkley.

Congratulations to Tegan Martin of Newcastle, N.S.W. winner of Miss Universe 2014, this twenty-one year old was runner up last year and deemed to be “too thin to win”. This year it was a different story — success all the way. Ready with quick-witted answers to questions from Fashion Globalisation to Domestic Violence and the Gender Gap in Pay to the latest Government Budget, Tegan proved she was a great deal more than a pretty face.  The winner is assigned a one-year contract with Miss Universe Organisation, travelling overseas to raise awareness about health and peace. “Trump Tower” in New York will be home for the duration of her reign.

Relatives of those aboard the ill-fated Flight MH370 have launched a drive to raise five million dollars to reward any insider who comes forward and resolves the mystery of the aircraft’s disappearance exactly three months ago. Meanwhile the hunt continues to focus on the “7th Arc” of the Indian Ocean, where it is thought the Boeing 777 exhausted its fuel supply and plunged.  Australia is asking for tenders for a deep-sea search to be carried out in August.  Somewhere, someone knows something, families believe. Hopefully the reward will entice them to come forward. Watch this space.

If you would like a rainforest experience, Kuranda in Cairns is the place to go. Travel on the Heritage Train or Skyrail. The rail spans 7.5 kms over virtually untouched tropical rainforest as you glide metres above the canopy and deep into the heart of the forest. Stretching for over 500 kilometres along Tropical North Queensland’s coastline, these are the oldest continually surviving rainforests on earth and once covered the entire Australian continent. They were placed on the World Heritage List in 1988.

Congratulations to The Kookaburras Men’s Hockey Team crowned World Cup Champions with a 6-1 win against The Netherlands. They capped off a superb tournament in which Australia outclassed every opponent they encountered.

Rookie Daniel Ricciardo, a new shining star, wins his first Formula1Grand Prix, and is now considered one of Australia’s best drivers and on par with other great formula drivers, including his heroes Jack Brabham, Alan Jones and Mark Webber. Daniel is tipped to win the World Championship.

In the garden we have had lots of visitors with the birds’ appetites growing as the weather cools down.  A particularly handsome pair of crested pigeons are frequent visitors. They are very lovey-dovey and never far apart.  The cheeky lorikeets are still ruling the roost. These birds are superb acrobats and love to hang on the line upside down, sometimes on one leg, chattering all the time. As soon as they see me hand-feeding my special Yellow Wattle bird, they hop onto my hand and join in. I must admit their colours are simply superb, and a feast for the eye with their bright orange chest and beak to match, they are hard to resist. My Butcher bird was here today and gave us an early morning tune; they all have a share of the tucker before departing.

Cheers, Patricia.